Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture: A Comparative and Literary-Historical Reevaluation

by Hongjian Wang


"A fascinating study, Decadence in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture analyzes work by literary luminaries such as Yu Dafu, Shao Xunmei, Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Shuo, Wang Xiaobo, and Yin Lichuan, exposing writers’ use of the perverse and the decadent to counter traditional aesthetics and excessive politicization while carving out a new modern position for Chinese letters. This book brilliantly illuminates many hidden corners in a complex literary history." —Wendy Larson, University of Oregon, and author of Zhang Yimou: Globalization and the Subject of Culture

"Hongjian Wang is to be commended for filling a gap in scholarship by reevaluating decadence or tuifei as a consistently marginalized, intentionally misunderstood, but productively contentious type of creative writing that persisted in China from the early twentieth century to the early twenty-first century. Wang’s comparative approach succinctly captures the unique strengths of European decadence in relation to aestheticism and romanticism on the one hand and contextualizes the various ways in which modern Chinese writers position themselves vis-à-vis European ideas of decadence to create their own brands of tuifei on the other. From Yu Dafu and Shao Xunmei from the Republican period to the avant-garde as well as popular writers of the new fin de siècle (Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Shuo, Wang Xiaobo, and Yin Lichuan), Wang offers insightful analysis of their engagements with decadence and their readjustments in different sociocultural conditions. The result is a fascinating book for people interested in art, literature, intellectual debates, and cultural history with a comparative perspective to enjoy." —Yingjin Zhang, University of California, San Diego, and coeditor of Locating Taiwan Cinema in the Twenty-First Century


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